Thanks to current population awareness of environmentally-friendly "green-living" choices, there is a major push for electric vehicles right now. Money is pouring into the technology and research and development necessary to make these vehicles a viable purchasing option for consumers. One of the major safety concerns surrounding electric cars is the lack of noise they produce. Pedestrians and other drivers complain that electric vehicles are so quiet, you don't even know they're there.
A study conducted by the University of Calfornia at Riverside concluded that electric cars had to be 40% closer to a pedestrian before they were detected, in comparison to a car with a standard combustion engine. This poses a serious safety risk when pedestrians are looking to cross the road. Bicyclists also rely heavily on audible clues to discern traffic flow around them. Many of us don't realize how much we use these audible clues until they're not available.
At the University of Warwick in the UK, researchers are conducting a study to see what kinds of noises people respond to best. They're evaluating the effectiveness of music, engine sounds, natural noises and yes, even sci-fi sounds. They'll be testing to see how people respond to audio stimuli such as a Star Wars TIE Figther Jet zooming towards them.
Currently, Congress is looking over a bill that would require the Department of Transportation to enforce specific safety standards for these vehicles which may include an audible warning. The proposed bill calls for a two-year study that would research the necessity of using audible alerts in quiet vehicles. The opinion here at the law offices of Kirk Bernard is that they're better off just making sound effects mandatory for electric cars. Is a two year study really necessary afterall? If it's already been confirmed that the cars are difficult to hear, and by making those changes many pedestrian and auto accidents could be avoided, what are we waiting for?
It's not so far-fetched to think that in the near future, when people go to pick out their electric vehicle, they'll be selecting from different models, colors and even sound effects. You can learn more here.